An investigation into Russian Oligarch Mikhail Fridman by the UK’s National Crime Agency was dropped.
The UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) has decided to abandon its inquiry into Russian Oligarch Mikhail Fridman. This decision follows a legal development in July where Fridman argued that a police raid involving over 50 officers on his north London residence in December 2022 was unlawful due to the use of a search warrant acquired under false accusations. Fridman contended that the allegations included financing Russian organized crime, money laundering for Colombian drug cartels, and involvement in the murder of two journalists.
Russian Oligarch Mikhail Fridman Arrest and Seizure
Subsequent to the raid, Fridman was arrested, and the NCA disclosed that they had seized “digital devices and a significant quantity of cash.” However, the NCA has now officially announced the discontinuation of its investigation into Fridman, stating that it will not pursue further actions against him. They also mentioned that ongoing inquiries continue concerning related individuals within the broader investigation.
US Treasury Department Sanctions
Notably, the US Treasury Department (USTD) recently imposed sanctions on Fridman. The USTD alleged that Fridman was part of a Russian Association of Employers, actively engaged in Russia’s technology sector. According to the department, Fridman chaired one of its councils, which advocated for import substitution, technology independence, and technological development.
The USTD also described Fridman and his business associates as prominent members of Russia’s financial elite. The US has accused this group of involvement in activities related to Russia’s responses to sanctions imposed following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Seizure of Assets and Accusations in Ukraine
Fridman, originally from Ukraine, faces the potential seizure of his assets in Ukraine. The government in Kyiv has also accused him of contributing to the financing of Russia’s war efforts.
Impact on the UK’s Stance on Wealthy Russians
The conclusion of this case deals a setback to the United Kingdom’s attempts to address critics who assert that the country is overly accommodating to wealthy Russian individuals who take advantage of the UK’s banking and legal systems.
Continuation of Anti-Corruption Efforts
Nevertheless, the NCA affirms that its Combating Kleptocracy Cell (CKC) will persist in its work. Established the previous year, this unit focuses on targeting corrupt elites who hold assets in the UK, including individuals closely associated with Russia’s President Putin. According to the NCA, the CKC has already frozen £11 billion of the £18 billion Russian assets seized following UK sanctions against Russia. Internationally, the NCA’s efforts have contributed to the freezing of properties, eight yachts, and four aircraft.
Mikhail Fridman, reportedly worth £8 billion, remains one of the few Russian oligarchs who have continued to reside in London.